For special needs students it's hard to bring in a substitute teacher because of the change in routine. Unless, of course, that substitute is a dog. 

The Calais School in New Jersey hired Savannah the Rhodesian ridgeback  to substitute for two other full-time service dogs in the classroom, reported

The full-time pups - Cali and Cleo - put in seven hour work days, so Savvanah's presence in the classroom gives her doggy co-workers the opportunity to take a break during the day. 

"Some schools with a special-needs population have service dogs that visit and work with the students as a once-in-a-while activity," David Leitner, executive director of The Calais School, told "We thought having a service dog on staff would benefit our students." 

The school's theory appears to be working. Some students seem to even be more comfortable learning with the dog's presence in the room! 

"Before they were at the school, I worried that I would mess up when reading aloud," Darrin, a fourth grader at the school, told "When I read to them, I know I'm not judged. For Cleo, I get her blanket and spread it out just the way she likes it. Then I lay on my stomach and start reading. It's pretty much the same with Savannah. I'm relaxed." 

Because the kids are so comfortable with the dogs, it actually makes it easier for the teachers to instruct during the school day. 

"And when they are relaxed their confidence comes through and they do a better job," Lara Ferment, a reading teacher and Natural Canine Behavior handler who works with Cleo, told